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Plasma vs DLP vs LCD vs CRT vs LCD Rear Projection
Pros, Cons and tradeoffs of DLP, LCD, Plasma, CRT, and LCD Rear Projection TVs
February 20, 2006
Updated: December 28, 2006
Peter Davis
Are you confused by all the different types of TVs today and are unsure which television is the best choice. A trip to your local electronic retailer will present you with many different choices, including CRT, DLP, Plasma, LCD, and LCD Rear projection. This article will discuss some common misperceptions, advise you of real problems you might encounter, and take a look at the pros/cons of these different TVs. What this article will not do is go into great technical detail and discuss things that no normal person really cares about. Alright, let's go for it!
LCD - Liquid Crystal Display
LCD Televisions use liquid crystal molecules to regulate the amount of light and Plasma TVs excite gases (non harmful ones) to do the same job.
DLP - Digital Light Processing
A chip known as a Digital Micromirror Device (DMD) controls a whole bunch of tiny mirrors and tells them to reflect or not reflect light, therefore altering the intensity of the light. The light is then "colored" in one of two ways. This is why you may see some DLP TVs labeled as 3-chip. A DLP with one DMD will pass the reflected light through a color wheel that is spinning to produce a color image. A 3-chip DLP TV has 3 DMDs, and a prism. The prism splits the light into red, green and blue and sends each color to its own DMD. Then each color of light is reflected through the same lens which recombines them to produce the color image. Although I didn't want to get too technical, the implications of all this will become apparent soon enough.
CRT - Cathode Ray Tube
Finally we have Cathode Ray Tubes (CRT) TVs. Since we're talking about larger screens here, it's actually CRT rear projection. These TVs use the same tube technology that we all grew up with.
Common Misperceptions
Let's get one thing out of the way, newer TVs don't automatically mean better picture. In fact it can be argued that old CRTs can technically produce the best picture of all the TVs. Many people also think that Plasma or LCD is definitely superior to DLP or LCD and this is just not the case. Each TV has pros and cons and depending on your personal preferences and budget one will work for you. So let's take a look at the differences.

Before we start the discussion of what is better I'd actually like to finish it. They're all the same. Now, before you start writing me an email blasting me for saying this please consider my reasoning behind this. Technically I think all TVs do a great job of displaying images and honestly I don't think most people really care about the stuff techies talk about when comparing technologies (e.g. Contrast ratios). So I take a different approach. Let's assume that all display a comparable image. Essentially what I'm getting at here is go to the store, take a look at the TV you're interested in buying. Make your own judgment as to which TV looks the best, and try to visit a few different stores to see if the TV you like always looks great no matter where you go. You can read about contrast ratios all day long but personally, the only thing that matters is do you like the look of this picture. So I say let's leave the pros out of this discussion, because it usually ends up being a technical discussion, that honestly in the end doesn't matter to most people. What I'm offering you is a real assessment of what the tradeoffs are between the different Technologies.

Before moving on to the next page you may also want to take a look at the differences between EDTV and HDTV.

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